Friday, May 9, 2014

USA Is A Christian Country

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    

                                     The 9  US Supreme Court Justices

There are 2.3 billion Christians in our world of 7 billion.  Catholics make up 1.09 billion of them.  Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox  tie for the remaining 1.21 billion.  The United States with 320,050,716 people does have freedom of religion and is not labeled as a so called "Christian Country," but let's not kid ourselves.  It's a Christian country nevertheless.  It was founded by dissident Christians who were unhappy with the Episcopalian England's religious rules saying that you had to be an Episcopalian.  They had other Christian ideas of how they wanted to practice, so braved the unknown ocean in a teeny flimsy ship called the Mayflower and ventured out to the new world, away from Holland where they had gone seeking freedom of religion in the first place.  Many of them died after their first year on this new land.  The year of 1620, when they sailed, was a small world then.  Most Christians were Catholics until Martin Luther (1483-1546) had come along with his Protestant Reformation.  .

By 1654, Portuguese Jews came sailing from Amsterdam  into the harbor of New York/New Amsterdam and Peter Stuyvesant, governor,  was taken over by anti-Semitic feelings and didn't want to admit them into the new land.  He tried to banish the Jews on September 22, 1654 from the city.  However, the Directors of the West India Company in Amsterdam, rescinded his order on April 26, 1655.  It was Jews who had invested much of their capital in shares in this company.  Ha!  They turned out to be company owners!  The Portuguese had been in Spain in 1492 when the Spanish Inquisition turned against them, forcing them to either convert to Catholicism or leave the country, which they did.  They moved to Portugal only to be expelled from there later on for the same reasons.  These had made their way to Holland.

There are 15 countries labeled as a Christian country, but the USA isn't one of them.

1. Argentina: Roman Catholic
2. Bolivia:        "          "
3. Costa Rica  "          "
4. Denmark: Danish National Church
5. El Salvador: Roman Catholic
6. England: Church of England
7. Greece:  Church of Greece
8. Armenia:  Armenian Apostolic Church
9. Georgia: Georgian Orthodox Church
10. Ethiopia:  Tewahedo Church
11. Iceland: Church of Iceland
12. Liechtenstein: Roman Catholic
13. Malta:             "           "
14. Monaco:        "           "
15. Norway: Church of Norway
Vatican City:  Roman Catholic Church

There are majority Christian countries in Europe, Russia, Americas, Philippines, East Timor, South Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Oceania.   They do not use the label of being a Christian state, or Christianity as a state religion.  Large Christian communities also are in Central Asia and the Middle East where they are 2nd to Islam.

Jews, of where there are only about 14 million in the world, are about 0.02% of the world population.  They make up about 1.7% of the USA population with heavy populations in New York, Florida and California. 16.1% of Americans are either unaffiliated or non-practicing people claiming no connection to any religious group.  .

They are living in a Christian country nevertheless.  This was brought to the forefront with today's article in the Oregonian by Ruth Marcus on the USA Supreme Court and how they vote.  She brings up a case in point that they had to make a decision about.  It was about the town of Greece, New York.  They always begin their board meetings with a prayer by a Christian minister, most often a sectarian one.

"We acknowledge the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross," one guest chaplain said.  "We draw strength, vitality and confidence from his resurrection at Easter."  Board members stand, bow their heads and make the sign of the cross at hearing this.

Out of 120 monthly meetings, invocations were given and only 4 were given by non-Christians.  This rarity happened only in 2008, after a plaintiff in the case complained about it.  Evidently he or she lost the case. Non-Christians haven't been asked again.  Greece, Monroe, New York has a population of 96,095  as of 2010 and lies very near Rochester, New York.  It was started in 1822, and was named Greece for its struggle to break away from the Ottoman Empire, an attribute they admired.  "The racial makeup of the town was 93.37% White, 2.88% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.49% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.87% from other races, and 1.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.55% of the population."  There are several synagogues in Rochester.   Jews could be living in the city of Greece since Rochester is only 12 minutes away.  

We have 9 judges in our Supreme Court.  5 are conservatives.  They are in the majority.  For them this religious decision was not a problem.

"Although most of the prayer givers were Christian," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, "this fact reflected only the predominantly Christian identity of the town's congregations, rather than an official policy or practice of discriminating against minority faiths."

The 4 others of which 3 are Jewish were left feeling uncomfortable about it.  For those who feel uncomfortable, the feeling is of exclusion, and Kennedy's advice boiled down to "Suck it up."  There is no way I can tell if those excluded were Jewish and attending or not.  One thing the USA does is not to make citizens carry ID cards with our religion on it.  That's a good thing.  Were there in attendance people of other faiths such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism?  We don't know.  The majority were Christians.

He went on. "Adults often encounter speech they find disagreeable and an Establishment Clause violation is not made out anytime a person experiences a sense of affront from the expression of contrary religious views in a legislative forum". ...Ah, this is the difference.   Oftentimes I've been in the same situation in many places where the leader prays for all of us in Jesus's name...Usually I bumped into this in fraternal organizations. ...especially where, as here, any member of the public is welcome to turn to offer an invocation reflecting his or her own convictions."  I've had to suck it up many a time.

I understand.  North America is predominantly a Christian nation, but I live here, too.  I am also an American.  The Constitution, which prohibits elevating one religion over another, demands some sensitivity to this fact.  It was written by brilliant people, but what we have for people are not brilliant in their understanding of it nor in their feelings towards others, unfortunately.  There is this difference.

When I hear "bow your head and pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord," it is a big deal to me.  I don't do this and so stand out in the crowd of head bowers who shouldn't really be seeing me just sit with my head held high, should they?  I don't move my lips either.  So I don't worry about it.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote "Honest oversight or not, the problem remains:  Every month for more than a decade, the board aligned itself, through its prayer practices, with a single religion.  That the concurring opinion thinks my objection to that is "really quite niggling" says all this is to say about the difference between our respective views."  In other words, Justice Kennedy had no feeling or compassion for those who weren't of his faith.  Suck it up was his feeling about it.  This is a Christian country after all, title or not.   Not too long ago people complained that there were 2 Jews on the Supreme Court, Brandeis and Cordoza.  Now we have 3.  We've made  progress.

The other case was about affirmative action.  Justice Sotomayor, who is not Jewish, wrote that "Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts:  "I do not belong here."  I think this is the point.  Both such prayers in the midst of others made the minority feel as if they are not a part of the group.  They are, indeed, different people.

The best thing I can say is that before a prayer is said in a group setting which has an audience that may have a newcomer in it, the leader should ask, is there someone here who would like to say a non Christian prayer for us?  Then they could follow it up with their Christian prayer.  Cover your bases, fellows.  Don't hurt someone in the act of praying.

As for public universities, aren't we ever going to be past the point of banning non-whites?  Shouldn't it be a matter of ability today?  Those with high marks get in.  Low marks don't.  It used to be that Jews had a limit of how many could get in. Jewish people of high ability didn't get in because the quota had been met for Jews.  Good grief!!! Probably the person who could have found the cure for cancer was in that group!  So we've had people with non-white skin kept out for reasons of color marking their skill level for all of them and Jews kept out for reasons of high scholarship, the condition found in most Jewish scholars; an overall judgement for all of us, either we're one or the other.  Interesting that we both came from a history of well known slavery, one old and one new.   One can look at this discrimination that way too, former slaves not being worthy of being a free citizen with all the rights by others.

USA is a Christian country.  Schools are open from Monday to Friday.  Business used to close on Sundays unless it was a small Jewish owned store which closed on Saturday.  They nationally celebrate Christmas and Easter with holidays, reflected inside schools and outside in neighborhoods with lights and pageants in the city.  Prejudices up until about the 60s, when fights were going on for Black rights, still showed up in country clubs where Jews were not welcome nor invited.  Jews were not employed in many businesses, even the telephone company in New York, for years and years.  We've been called "Kikes," a very derogatory word, for a long time in the USA.  Americans have called minorities their pet names such as "Wop" for Italians, "Mick" for the Irish, "Chink" for the Chinese.  Those that have such prejudices have used these terms when they've wanted to be nasty.

These same prejudices have also included Blacks as well, who now make up about 13% of our USA population.  Whites make up 72% of the USA and Hispanic or Latinos make up 15%.

When the author of "Kike" was in France going to school, his American father came to visit him.  At Orly airport they asked him to fill out a form, including his nationality.  He wrote, "Jewish."  The author, Selzer, explained that they meant "American."  His father said, "When anyone asks that question, what they want to know is this:  Are you a Jew? " That reflects his past experience, which has actually changed for his son.  He would have written, American.  Our younger generation has little insight as to the mountains Jews have climbed in order to give their children more freedoms.

Oregonian newspaper; 5/9/14 page A14, Opinion; by Ruth Mrcus-High court justices fail to see others as they see themselves on Rulings on prayer, race.
"Kike" by Selzer,_New_York


  1. Excellent Article.....I grew up around the proverbial corner from Greece!

  2. Thanks, Jeff. That is certainly another one of those big coincidences that you grew up around Greece, New York! How amazing!